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Just starting to looking into things

  1. Nov 17, 2004 #1
    I love physics, especially when it involves the universe as a whole or the most basic and miniscule of particles. I'm a 15 year old girl who's in grade 10 and someday I want to be a theoretical physicist (I think, I'm still looking into everything... and I still find astrophysics very interesting)

    ...but I'm not very good at math. I like it when math is something less certain, like infinity or pi, but I'm not very good at equations with specific answers. If I could, I'd just be a philosopher and think for a living but unfrotuanatly that won't pay the bills. Is there any kind of physics that doesn't really concentrate on math so much?

    Oh, and sorry if this is in the wrong place; I've only just joined!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2004 #2


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    No there isn't really any area of physics that does not involve lots of math and theoretical physics is virtually synomous with mathemtical physics so that particluar area requires a deeper knowledge of math than any other area. Of course don't let that put you off as you still have to option of improving your math if you really do want to become a physicist.
  4. Nov 17, 2004 #3
    jcsd is right. It's very hard to math when studying physics. If you are interested in physics, there is still time to work on your mathematics skills.

    I'll also add that if you are very interested in philosophy that's something you ought to pursue. You're only 15 and it's too early to start worrying about having to pay the bills. Do what you love and things will fall into place.
  5. Nov 17, 2004 #4
    I suppose that's true. I tend to over-prepare (if that's possible). I guess I'll just stay open and see which way things take me. ^_^
  6. Nov 17, 2004 #5
    Theoretical Physics with little or no math is an oxymoron.

    Theoretical physics really is only math and how the mathematical results could apply to the world.
  7. Nov 17, 2004 #6

    Math Is Hard

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    Math IS hard.
    Do it anyway. :smile:
  8. Nov 17, 2004 #7
    I was absolutely horrible in high school mathematics up to precalc. The second I hit calculus, however, it all seemed to make incredible sense to me and I've been alright enough in the subject ever since. Not above and beyond or anything like that but good enough. What I'm trying to say is algebraic skill is not nessecarily an indicator as to how good or bad you are in mathematic ability, nor is it the final word.
  9. Nov 17, 2004 #8
    That's certainly good! I've been told I have the math skills of a 4th grader...

    My dad says it was the same for him; he didn't like math until calculus. And now he's programmer (and philosopher, in a way. Probably why I'm so interested in it ^_^)

    I know that Calculus was created by Isaac Newton, but I'm still not sure exactly what it explains/refers to. Why did he create it and why are we still using it?

    This info will probably be helpful in grade 12 when I have to take this...

    Jeez, I do think to far forward. ^_^
  10. Nov 17, 2004 #9
    Just grab some books from a library and read up. . .definitely won't kill you; and the material is quite learnable. Try something like Thomas' Calculus - it is a huge tome that basically gives you an overview of all of introductory calculus, but you don't have to read all of it at once; if you start slowly from the beginning it should be quite accessible.

    Calculus is an incredibly beautiful thing, but I don't think you can come to appreciate it unless you really learn it and start applying it.

    Ps. You still have time to improve your math, but if you wait till grade 12 to do it chances are you won't anymore. Work on your own instead of waiting for this class or that. I at least find learning much more fascinating when I engage in it because I want to, not because I have to.
  11. Nov 17, 2004 #10
    That's a great idea! I'm sure there's something in the math section of the school library. I always avoided that place before!

    I've already arranged with my school to get a grade 11 math textbook so that I can teach myself as things go along. I'll have to take a transfer course during the summer to get into acedemic math (I'm currently in applied), but I'm sure if I keep my goal in mind I can get to it.
  12. Nov 17, 2004 #11
    Why do you say your bad at math?

    I am a very goal oriented person, without a clear goal, I get VERY lazy. It was easy in high school to convince myself that I sucked at math, it was the easy thing to do. The truth was, I just didn't want to put in the effort to learn and practice it.

    I consider myself to be of average intelligence when it comes to math. I can learn and understand the concepts, apply them correctly with practice, but I make a lot of mistakes if I try and go to quickly. If this sounds like you, there's no reason you couldn't get through the math required to study physics at the undergrad level.
  13. Nov 17, 2004 #12
    I know it's the same with me. I used to be good at math, but my 4th grade teacher had a funny way of teaching it (most of her kids were on medication for ADD/ADHD because she was too lazy to teach). I failed to finish my math homework one night and each day she'd give me more. Eventually I wasn't allowed to attend other classes or extracurricular activities. Ever since then I've hated math, or at least convinced myself that I do. Now I think I use it as an excuse to be lazy! I know that if I make an effort to listen and study then I'll have no trouble.

    For me it all depends on the teacher. All I need is good teacher and I'll do well, I think.
  14. Nov 17, 2004 #13
    Physics is a mathematical model of the universe, so what you are asking is if it is possible to make a chocolate cake without using any chocolate! You can try - but it won't be pretty!
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